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American-Israeli Teen Was Killed in Action on Oct. 7, IDF Says

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A 19-year-old U.S.-Israeli citizen who was thought to be held hostage in Gaza was actually killed in HamasOct. 7 attack, according to the Israeli military.

Sergeant Itay Chen had been serving on the Gaza border that day, according to a statement from The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum that was shared with The Daily Beast on Tuesday. His body is still held in Gaza, the group said.

Ruby Chen and Hagit Chen, the parents of Itay, were informed Monday evening of the death of their son.

“Our hearts are broken. We loved him so much, and we would have done anything to bring him home alive,” they told The Daily Beast in a statement. “Itay was serving in the IDF Armed Corps. He was a fun-loving, bright light for his family and friends and a talented basketball player who loved shooting hoops with his brothers.”

The news about Chen comes as U.S. officials and allies are still working to broker another hostage release deal after months of delays. Qatar, which has been working on negotiations, said Tuesday that a deal is “not near.” According to a U.S. intelligence assessment issued Tuesday, there is “still a possibility” for a hostage deal, however.

Families Share Heartbreaking Details of Israeli Hostages’ Time in Captivity

“I think there’s still the possibility of such a deal,” CIA Director Bill Burns told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. “And as I said, it won’t be for lack of trying on our part, working very closely with our Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian counterparts. This is a very tough process. I don’t think anyone can guarantee success. The only thing I think you can guarantee is that the alternatives are worse.”

President Joe Biden said Tuesday he will not stop working to secure the hostages’ release.

“Today, our hearts are heavy. Jill and I are devastated to learn that American Itay Chen was killed by Hamas during its brutal terrorist assault on October 7,” Biden said. “I reaffirm my pledge to all the families of those still held hostage: we are with you. We will never stop working to bring your loved ones home.”

Families of the hostages have been working behind the scenes to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prioritize hostage releases over other military aims, but a deal has not yet been reached.

Ruby Chen has been particularly vocal about fighting for his son and other hostages, including visits to the White House and Capitol Hill to speak to reporters about the need for a hostage deal.

Chen previously told The Daily Beast that Netanyahu needs to “step up” his efforts to bring hostages home from Hamas’ clutches.

Israeli Hostage Families Vow More ‘Disruption’ After Storming Parliament

“Netanyahu needs to recognize this is time for leadership on a historical level. And the contract that exists between the people of Israel to its government was broken on Oct. 7… that needs to be fixed,” Chen previously told The Daily Beast. “We have one simple thing to say: We want our kids back.”

Speaking with The Daily Beast in the early days after Oct. 7, Chen described fond memories of summers spent with his son on Coney Island. He hoped Itay’s “New York toughness” would help him through his perceived captivity.

“He never backed down,” Ruby Chen told The Daily Beast in October. “And the only hope I have is that he’s now being held hostage someplace 100 feet under the ground and waiting for the negotiations to continue. And he’ll be back home.”

Ruby Chen and Hagit Chen reiterated on Tuesday their hope that Netanyahu negotiate for other hostages’ release immediately.

“We want to thank the Biden administration, members of the U.S. House and Senate from both sides of the aisle, and the American people for their unwavering support and prayers over the last 158 days,” they said. “Even more so today, we expect Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden to do everything in their power to bring Itay, as well as the other 133 hostages, back home to us.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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